Today is our 1-year legal wedding anniversary. Hearts to the husband. I can’t believe it’s been a year, but it’s been a really great year. I thought marriage was going to be a lot harder, but after we got through the stress of getting a place of our own, planning 3 wedding ceremonies, and hosting both sets of families in our respective countries, marriage itself has really been a breeze. I’m going to try and hang onto these memories from now on because life is not always kind, and I hope that whenever we run into inevitable problems – health, financial, family, or otherwise, I’m going to try and remember this first year as a way to show me that whatever life throws at us, we have a strong bond that can overcome everything if we stick together.
We celebrated by going out for dinner and wearing couple clothes. Seriously. Us. Couple clothes. Does it make it better if they are goth couple shirts? I’m including pictures so you can see the sleeves of the shirts and then our overall outfits. I wore my awesome possum coat most of the time, so I guess most other people didn’t realize we were wearing the same shirt.
Mr. Lee searched for quite a while for a new veggie place for us to celebrate at, and in addition to our usual haunts on White Day and my birthday, I think this will be our anniversary restaurant! It’s called Chaegundaam (채근담), and it is located in Daechi-dong at Samseong Station. It is a royal cuisine restaurant similar to the other upscale veggie places we frequent, but because its focus is not temple cuisine, there’s more flavour because they can use onions and garlic. You just have to be careful because there are several branches, and only one location has a vegetarian option. For instance, after going out Samseong Station exit 3 and walking for 5 minutes, you will see this restaurant.
This is not the restaurant – well, it’s a branch of the restaurant, but it does not have the vegetarian set menus. The other branches are well known as places for engagement ceremonies. Instead, keep walking, and when you get just past the wrong restaurant, you’ll see the Jaguar/Range Rover dealership. Turn right, and you’ll see the real restaurant on the left.
I guess the makgeolli (fermented rice alcohol) is very famous because former dictator Park Chung Hee once drank it.
Here’s the inside of the restaurant. It is quite lovely, and I wish I would have taken more photographs of the interior.
We chose the 50,000 won/person set, but there was a cheaper vegetarian option for dinner. The first round of food started with radish kimchi in water (나박김치)
Soy and nut porridge (두견죽)
Salad (including dried apples!)
Cellophane noodles and vegetables (잡재) and a side dish of pickles and pickled lotus root
The porridge was really flavourful, and my favourite part of this course.
Then we moved into the second course. Mini pancakes – some with edible flowers (전)
Mushroom sesame soup
A ginseng/cucumber amuse bouche I wasn’t crazy for (I’m not a ginseng fan)
The BEST kimchi I’ve ever had in my life. Seriously. It was so tasty-pungent without being smelly pungent, and it was filled with dried jujubes (대추), chestnuts, and radish kimchi. I ate about 2/3 of this dish. I just could not stop myself.
Third round: Radish slices self-filled with tiny slivers of vegetables (구절판) but our version was vegan, so there were fewer ingredients
Grilled mushrooms and ginko nuts
And tempura: squash, ginseng (not great) and and and…..dried jujubes filled with sweet potato. Amazing. We complimented the server, and as part of my dessert, I got three extra ones just for me J
Fourth round! Bean paste soup (된장찌개) – so so so good.
Various side dishes (반찬)
And scorched rice in hot water (누룽지)
Finally…dessert. Rice cake (떡) and strawberries
And cold Korean raspberry tea (복분자차)
I strongly recommend this restaurant. Obviously it is a bit pricier if you are on a strict budget, but if there’s a lot of restaurants in Seoul that purport to serve ‘Western’ or upscale food (sometimes incorrectly conflated) – but many of these places do not have the quality ingredients or service to back up the prices. On the other hand, the ingredients are incredibly fresh at this restaurant, and the set menus provide so many good quality dishes that you don’t need to eat anything else for the rest of the day. The only real problem I had with the restaurant is that at least 2 people have to eat a set – meaning that if you are veggie and your partner is not – you have to convince your partner to be a veggie for a meal….not a bad thing in my opinon.
Anyway, a super memorable day with a super fantastic husband of one year!